"I feel like a billionaire doing meaningful work and making an impact. I walk into a room and I feel like 'I've got the best job.'" My son heard these words recently in his office downtown. Can you imagine? It sounds like someone is LOVING their work! Most of us would kill (well, not actually kill because then we would end up in jail, despondent and depressed, and we'd be out of the job market altogether, so let me rephrase that) most of us would be THRILLED to love our work. How can we go from feeling apathetic or unhappy about our work, to excited and motivated? I'm talking about work on this health-related blog because every aspect of your life is related to your well-being! If your 40+ hour-a-week job is boring, uninspiring, and depressing, you will become bored, uninspired, and depressed. Here are tell-tale signs that your work is having a detrimental effect on your health:
- you hit "snooze" an average of 5-7 times on workday mornings
- you spend 45+ minutes playing games or scrolling social media sites in your office (or during meetings)
- you "reward" yourself with junk food at the end of a long day
- most of your conversations with family and friends boomerang back to your work frustrations
- you are "too tired" to exercise, get together with friends, spend time with family
This is a short list. But if any of the above resonate with you, what next? Follow these "transportation" tips to move from a ho-hum job to a job that keeps you humming.
1.Where do you want to go? You know how the GPS shows various routes to get to the same destination? If it's time to take a new route, you first need to identify where you want to end up. So make a "wish" list of where you'd like to be professionally. Don't just think about it; make it more tangible by writing it down. This is the first step in the job search journey. Stephen Covey says "Begin with the end in mind."
2. Keep moving and keep your eyes peeled. Feeling stalled out, career-wise? Start your engine and get moving! Connect with friends in your field in other offices. Use LinkedIn or Google+. Let people know that you are interested in a change. And don't let age or stage make you feel stuck. As I was leaving one position for another, a colleague confided in me, "I'm too old. I can't move on." He was stalled out. I didn't believe his reasoning for a moment. (Plus he was around my age!) Some group, somewhere, needs your particular skill set. Keep your eyes open for that exit ramp.
3. Don't be afraid to switch tracks! My husband went from being a youth pastor at a church to an athletic director at a high school. Not an obvious segue, at first blush. My husband had to see the potential to transfer his experience in one field (no athletic pun intended) to one that seemed very different. Both positions required organization, planning, and, obviously, lots of love for and patience with teens. It's been a great fit!
4. Take the back road! Pursue your interests on the side and see what develops. Some hobbies can be parlayed into careers. I used to play the guitar just for fun. I played it at my kids' elementary school and for small groups here and there. I wasn't very good at it. But now I play in church every Sunday as the leader of a worship band. I used to exercise just for fun. Now I am a Regional Director for Body & Soul, an international fitness organization.I had NO clue I could get so far with my little hobbies. My hobbies have become my job-bies.
Until you can move on, how can you make your current job less miserable?
1. "Lean in." Not into the job, if you simply can't stand it. No, "lean in" to what you actually do enjoy about your work---it could be your co-workers, the actual work itself, or its proximity to a favorite restaurant. Whatever it is, "lean in" to that! Keep that on your mind when the negative bits start to dominate your thinking.
2. Become the "Invisible Girl" from Fantastic 4. I don't mean don't show up to work! I mean, imagine your private life as an impermeable bubble that your work life cannot puncture. This way, the toxic work environment or load cannot seep into your home life. How do you do this, in practical ways? Leave at the pre-determined time. Don't check email or answer the phone after hours. Do what you love best after five and on the weekends: take pictures, work out, watch movies, take a hike! Whatever you do, be present as you do it, setting the work aside in its own little separate bubble.
Are these thoughts helpful? I am currently loving my job-bies, so I am writing these tips from a happy place. Is anybody out there struggling, trying to get out of a bad situation? If so, please comment below and add your own thoughts to the discussion!